Stocks we’re higher to start Friday with the Dow adding 16, or less than 0.1%. The S&P 500 rose 0.3% to a new intraday record, while the Nasdaq advanced 0.6% to a new all-time high.
Job growth ground to a halt in December as rising COVID-19 cases resulted in renewed restrictions and economic closures. The Labor Department reported that nonfarm payrolls fell by 140,000 last month, marking the first monthly drop since April. “The report is remarkably weak with regards to leisure and hospitality. That’s really what’s taking the headline number down. That is very clearly about the COVID resurgence we are seeing and underscoring the need for more fiscal policy,” said Jeffrey Rosenberg, a senior portfolio manager at BlackRock. “In some ways, bad news is good news, because it increases the probability for more stimulus,” said Michael Arone, chief investment strategist for US SPDR Business. “Investors have convinced themselves this week that given what’s happened in Georgia, given the weakness in the economic data, that more help is on the way. We’re going to get more fiscal help, and it’s likely to happen pretty soon.”
The U.S. reported its deadliest day of the pandemic yet with more than 4,000 COVID-19 deaths recorded on Thursday. Thursday’s data marks the 10th consecutive day of new record-high daily death tolls as the coronavirus continues to surge nationwide. In the first week of January alone, more than 20,000 in the U.S. have died from COVID-19, and the first month of the year is likely to rival December for the deadliest month yet of the pandemic. Top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci warned that the outbreak is likely to get worse before it gets better, saying on Thursday, “We believe things will get worse as we get into January.” Fauci added that Americans can still “blunt that acceleration” if they strictly adhere to public health measures such as wearing masks and social distancing.
President Donald Trump finally conceded that President-elect Joe Biden will be sworn in on January 20 in an address late Thursday. “A new administration will be inaugurated on Jan. 20th,” Trump said, without specifically naming Biden. “My focus now turns to ensuring a smooth, orderly and seamless transition of power.” Trump then said this morning that he will not attend Biden’s inauguration, though Vice President Mike Pence said he will attend if invited. While the inauguration is just 12 days away, top House Democrats have said that the chamber could move to impeach Trump “as early as mid-next week” following reports that Pence is not in favor of removing the president by invoking the 25th Amendment. More than 190 lawmakers have called for Trump’s removal since Wednesday’s attack on the Capitol.
Bitcoin rallied above $41,000 this morning, trading as high as $41,962.36. The digital currency is trading at $41,455.18 at the time of writing. Bitcoin is already up more than 41% year-to-date after rising more than 300% last year. This week’s surge in the cryptocurrency marks its biggest weekly gain since the last time it was in a bubble back in December 2017. Evercore ISI technical strategist Rich Ross aid the potential for “upside of historic proportions” suggests investors should keep buying bitcoin, but warned the outlook as “tulip-like,” referring to the 17th century’s mania for tulip bulbs.
And Hyundai Motor stock is up more than 28% today following reports that it is in discussions with Apple over potentially working together to develop an electric car. “We understand that Apple is in discussion with a variety of global automakers, including Hyundai Motor,” a representative from Hyundai said. “As the discussion is at its early stage, nothing has been decided. We’ve been receiving requests of potential cooperation from diverse companies regarding development of autonomous driving EVs, but no decisions have been made as discussions are in early stage.” The news comes on the heels of reports from last month that Apple was moving forward with its self-driving car technology, with a goal to produce a passenger vehicle by 2024.
Stocks We’e Watching
Niu Technologies (NASDAQ: NIU): Niu shares are up more than 4% this morning after the Chinese electric scooter company said it sold 149,705 e-scooters in 2020, marking a 40.9% year-over-year gain. “Seeing quite a bit of demand for our new products and that drives the continued growth in China,” said Yan Li, CEO of Niu Technologies. “For the international market, we are actually seeing despite the COVID-19 situation, we are actually seeing a nice rebound as more and more people… really geared for… individual mobility solutions. We are seeing increasing orders from Europe.”